29 Nov 2023

Pacific news in brief for November 29

4:35 pm on 29 November 2023
A Nauru Airlines flight on the tarmac in Majuro

Photo: Giff Johnson

Nauru - airline

Nauru Airlines is launching an Island Hopper service connecting Palau to Brisbane, Australia.

The Island Times reports the weekly service, supported by the Australian Government's Flight Programme, will operate with stopovers in Nauru, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, and Pohnpei.

The airline will be basing its crew in Palau and has contracted with a local company to provide catering services.

Niue - tourism

Niue's director of tourism says local operators are thrilled with a second Air New Zealand weekly flight next year.

Stuff reports Air New Zealand will fly to Niue on Tuesdays and Saturdays from April until the end of October.

Currently, the airline runs a seasonal, twice-weekly service but only until the end of January.

Niue Director of Tourism Micah Fuhiniu-Viviani said the extra flight complements the hard work their team and the wider tourism industry has put in over this last winter.

Upgrades are underway to the island's infrastructure and services, as well as a makeover for the airport terminal and resealing the runway.

Vanuatu - donation

A cash donation of US$1,445 has been given to the chiefs of Vanuatu by former seasonal workers in Australia, who have absconded and remain in Australia.

The workers, who are linked through a chat group called 'Hope Beyond Abscond' have given the money to help pay for the rebuilding of the national council of chiefs facility in Port Vila, the Malvatumauri.

The building was destroyed by fire earlier this year, but the rebuilding is well underway.

The cause of the blaze is still unexplained.

Palau - wastewater

Palau's Senate has taken an official stance against Japan's Fukushima wastewater release despite the president previously expressing his support.

Islands Business reports the Senate has passed a joint resolution expressing its disapproval, and asking Japan to reconsider, or if that is not possible, to at least take remedial action.

President Surangel Whipps Jr had already expressed Palau's support of Japan's decision to release the treated nuclear water into the ocean, after his visit to Japan in June.

But Senate president Hokkons Baules said President Whipps' statement was his own personal decision and did not reflect the nation's sentiment.

Baules said the resolution is late, but still relevant, and expressed the sentiment of the representatives of the people.

It has been submitted to the House of Delegates for their response.

Tonga - communication

Tonga's Department of Communications has warned the public not to transmit illegal radio waves near aviation communication channels.

It comes amidst reports that an illegal radio transmission interfered with the radio frequency of an aircraft last week.

Acting Director for Communications Stan Ahio told Matangi Tonga, that such transmissions are disruptive to traffic control services and cause delays.

Under Tongan law, disrupting aircraft frequencies can result in the suspension of licenses to operate radio equipment.

Samoa - education

The boss of Samoa's Education and Culture Ministry says the loss of teachers to jobs overseas continues to have an impact.

The Samoa Observer reports A'eau Christopher Hazelman saying one recurring problem is the frequency of teacher resignations.

He said this was either for employment abroad or taking on responsibilities at home because another family member has gone overseas for seasonal work.

But A'eau said despite this academic results continue to improve.

Samoa - guilty

A former Samoa customs officer has been found guilty of importing methamphetamine.

A decision was delivered last week finding the accused guilty of two counts of importing illegal drugs.

The Samoa Observer reports Pueleo Sefulua Peseta had pleaded not guilty to the charges after the Ministry of Customs and Revenue officials and police intercepted the drugs concealed in cereal boxes.

The defendant is on bail pending his sentencing next month.

Guam - funds

A Guam senator has asked the governor to tap into the American Rescue Plan funds to provide medical care in the southern villages.

It comes as debate continues over whether to build a hospital or medical centre in Guam, and the best location for it.

The Pacific Islands Times reports Senator Frank Blas Jr saying the debate has revealed the deeper and more urgent issue of the accessibility and timeliness of reaching a medical facility.

Senator Blas urged the governor to use the federal covid funds to staff and retro-fit the under-utilised Southern Regional Community Health Center, to include a 24-hour urgent care facility.